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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Efficiency with Fly-Sparge
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:10 PM   #1
SteveG
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Default Efficiency with Fly-Sparge

So this past week I picked up one of the morebeer Heavy Duty 15g's and have brewed twice with it. Great kettle, and great fun!

I fly-sparged both batches after a mashout using the 15g kettle with a false bottom and both times my efficiency was around 65-68% My fly-sparge was done with a march pump delivering sparge water, I thought perhaps I sparged too quickly the first time so I slowed down yesterday, but my efficiency was only slightly better. I'm not using a sparge arm, rather I'm slowly draining into the top of the kettle onto a plastic dish to keep the 'drilling' to a minimum. I did notice the sparge water was around 168 leaving the hose, perhaps this was a little low? I don't have a dip tub that drains from the center of the kettle either, rather its a simple brass 90 degree thats screwed into the inside of the pot. I was told channeling would not be a problem with a false bottom?

I should also mention that my pH should be good, the first mash I forgot the 5.2 stabilizer, the second time I used it...

Any insight into this lower-then-wanted efficiency would be appreciated.

Either way it was a great learning experience and I have a steam beer and a dogfish head 60 clone bubbling away that I can't wait to drink!

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Old 11-12-2008, 08:33 PM   #2
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What was your previous technique and what sort of efficiency were you getting?

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Old 11-12-2008, 09:49 PM   #3
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If you have a plastic dish sitting on top of the grain bed to reduce "drilling", it may also be creating one huge anti-channel underneath it.

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Old 11-12-2008, 09:58 PM   #4
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I have always used a perforated pie pan as my sparge water buffer but, I am not really convinced that is best. Sometimes the pan gets "lost". In reading a BrewMagic Owners manual I learned that their system is a elbow that causes the sparge water to swirl over the top of the grain bed thus eleminating channeling (or drilling as you put it). I may try that.

To what level are you keeping your sparge water at above the grain bed? Should be an Inch or two above until you have run your estimated sparge water volume through the mash. I always keep a water cube nearby to collect runnings in if my running gravity hasn't reached terminal but, I have met my target boil volume.

I have a sparge arm but, found it did a better job of making steam than it did for sparging a mash. Meh.

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Old 11-13-2008, 12:39 AM   #5
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+1 on Bobby's comment. I have heard people recommend using a plate, but I really think you are better slowly pouring the water in than using the plate.

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Old 11-13-2008, 06:12 AM   #6
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To the "What was your previous technique and what sort of efficiency were you getting?" I was an extract brewer, so my efficiency was pretty good

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Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
If you have a plastic dish sitting on top of the grain bed to reduce "drilling", it may also be creating one huge anti-channel underneath it.
Interesting, I never really considered this possibility, but I could see how that might happen. I will make a trip to the hardware store this weekend and construct something, or pony up the 20 bucks for a pre-built sparge arm.

I don't like the "slowly pouring the water in" method, that's what I tried on the first day (I was waiting for the march pump to arrive) and I just couldn't pour slow enough. I like the idea of hooking up a pump, matching the two flow rates, and drinking a beer. What bummed me out was getting the pump, sparging twice as slow, and only getting a couple extra points more in efficiency (I had read earlier in the day that you can take a huge hit in efficiency by fly sparging too quickly, and thought that was my problem for sure).

As always, thanks. This forum is really great. Speaking of ponying up 20 bucks....... Next payday
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Old 11-13-2008, 02:29 PM   #7
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Something that's not been talked about yet are other factors that could be affecting your efficiency. It sounds like these 2 batches were your 1st AG. How is your crush? pH is important too, but it sounds like you've got that covered. Fly-sparging a cylindrical kettle with a false bottom is probably the most efficient way to lauter.

I also fly-sparge with a keggle/false bottom and always get high efficiency (usually over 90%). The sparge water from my HLT is gravity fed to the MLT. I don't use any kind of fly-sparging device (arm, etc.). All I do is hold the tubing, which transfers my sparge water from the HLT, over the grain bed (with an inch of water on top) and keep it moving randomly. So, while sitting there, holding hot tubing over the MLT for the entire sparge seems like a PIA, these disturbances in the grain bed seem to get maximum sugar extraction from the grain by actually allowing channeling to initiate at virtually every point on the grain bed by the time the sparge is done. As far as time goes, I noticed that no matter how long or short of time I took, my efficiency seemed unaffected. So, I've fly-sparged 14.5 gallons of wort into my kettle in 30 minutes and still got high efficiency.

But the main thing I'm working on now is consistency because that is the most important thing with efficiency for homebrewers. But, at the same time, once you've had high efficiency, it's hard to settle for less.

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Old 11-13-2008, 02:58 PM   #8
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As always, thanks. This forum is really great. Speaking of ponying up 20 bucks....... Next payday
Better work some overtime, it's $25 now.
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Old 11-13-2008, 06:52 PM   #9
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I've had good luck fly sparging at a rate of about 1 qt./minute. I think this is about what Palmer recommends.

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Old 11-15-2008, 02:23 AM   #10
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You might try a mashout step to raise the grain bed temp to the same temp of your sparge water.

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